Question

I live in California and may have been exposed to carbon monoxide. What is the first thing I should do? What are the long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning?

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Patrick E. Bailey - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Patrick E. Bailey

Located in Los Angeles, CABailey & Partners

Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-392-5000
Fax: 310-392-8091

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Answer

Because carbon monoxide is impossible to see, taste or smell, you may only suspect you have been poisoned when you experience any one or more of the following symptoms: headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, chills, fever and coughing.  

Exposures of as little as 100 parts per million (the equivalent of one drop of water diluted into 50 liters) can be dangerous and even fatal if there is prolonged exposure. If you have any of the symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, go to a medical emergency room or clinic as soon as possible and express your concern, and request a blood gas workup that checks for your carboxyhemoglobin count. That blood gas count will reveal if you have been exposed to carbon monoxide and will help ascertain the seriousness of the exposure. It will also assist the medical staff or doctor as to the type of treatment you will need.  

After that, you need to determine the source of the poison (unvented or dilapidated space heaters, wall heaters or gas stove, leaking chimney, auto exhaust from a garage, etc.) and disable the source of the gas. Long-term effects of the poison depend on the present state of your health and more importantly, the amount and duration of exposure to carbon monoxide.

Experts in the treatment of serious carbon monoxide exposure have determined that long-term effects include traumatic brain injury, including loss of cognitive function and serious emotional distress. The brain injuries can make a person more susceptible to early onset dementia, and perhaps Alzheimer’s syndrome.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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